Selected Poetry

Autumn

 

the leaves have all turned

and most have fallen

black branches emerge

like pitch forks with bent prongs

snow fences are stretched like tourniquets

tightening upon the swelling cornfield 

to prevent the amber essence

from bleeding out onto the highway

 

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The Cumberland River Ferry

 

the water strider,

unaware of the liquid force beneath him,

resists the current when he wishes to remain 

and rests...

when he wants to go.

 

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Observations From A Dark Window

 

Lee is raking leaves below the window.

If he looked up he would see black glass.

He doesn’t know anyone is watching.

Every now and then he finds a piece of useful trash

discarded from above like the leaves,

and carrying it over to the step,

he brushes it off carefully,

scrapes away tiny chunks of encrusted dirt with his thumbnail,

wipes it off on his shirt tail,

then sets it in a pile on top of his coat.

He just found a white plastic cylinder.

It obviously does not belong in a pile of leaves.

His face says he does not know what it could be used for.

There is probably a small drawer in his basement

overflowing with items like these.

 

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Candy’s Giant Potato

 

Candy bought a giant potato

No doubt she discovered it

at the supermarket

bulging out

from within the cellophane bag.

She brought it home

and put it on her shelf

between the teabags

and the milkbones.

Then she invited me to dinner.

 

For dinner,

Candy cooked the giant potato

and served it to me on a plate

with rare roast beef cold cuts,

bite sized carrots,

and strawberries dowsed in whipped cream.

 

There were chunks of cold yellow butter

on the potato.

Candy brought salt and pepper.

I think she was excited

that she had found such a giant potato.

I think she was proud.

 

We ate our dinner.

The potato was delicious.

Candy was pleased.

 

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Practicing Piano

 

she plays piano

her back is firm

there is a rip in her jeans

right down the back

a patch of red panties with white dots

shows through the tear

she is embarrassed when the old woman

sees her carrying the laundry downstairs

in her torn pants.

 

she is playing a slow song

it rambles and falls

it is as if she were combing her hair

it starts out rough

the comb tugs

her hands jerk

but she plays and plays

and the snarls come out

the sound becomes smooth and refined

and so does she

 

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Refrigerator Vision 3:00 AM

Wonders Of Modern Science: Part I (delirium)

 

My refrigerator has a tiny thermostatic mind of its own

implanted surgically on some assembly line in Minneapolis

by a Maytag man in a khaki uniform.

Yesterday I set the coolness control to number six.

This means that whenever the temperature varies

even half a degree

a tiny Sears transistor has to wake up,

defrost its code number,

jump over to the motor switch,

click it on,

yawn,

and return to its sealed circuit

while some neon green ammonia solution

flows tirelessly through a thousand invisible tubes

grabbing up little particles of flagrant heat

and spewing them carelessly on my carpet.

 

How thoughtless.

 

And after five minutes or so

when the temperature returns to normal

the whole process has to repeat itself in reverse.

The poor transistor never rests

and the motor makes a noise 

like a broken dental drill.

 

At night

when I dream

my cavities rebel by escaping through my parted lips

at the peak of a snore

to short circuit the refrigerator plug

with smuggled saliva.

 

All this for an open pack of Green Giant Frozen Giblet Corn,

two leaky polyethylene icetrays,

and a moldy grapefruit.

 

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Three Observations

 

1.

 

After you leave

I have to pull all your long gold strands

of knarled hair

from my brush, one by one.

This reminds me of the time 

you left three copper pennies

stuck to bubble gum 

in my ashtray.

Do you leave this much gold everywhere you go ?

 

When you left 

I walked into my bathroom

picked up my hair brush of black polyethylene

and smiled.

It’s nice of you to leave such delicate parts of your body

above my sink.

I know you won’t be angry

if I throw them into my garbage

with the peach pits

and banana peels.

 

Before you arrive

I will retrieve seven long gold strands of your hair.

I will tie one around my injured finger like a ring

so it will heal quicker,

then I will take the remaining six

and string them patiently on my broken guitar

and sing you this poem.

 

2. 

 

Remember

when you stooped at the edge of my bed

with the clicking toenail clippers

and you shot them off in all directions

like ricocheting moon-shaped missles.

 

Three days after you left

I watched a gigantic ant

cart away the tiny sliver from your little toe.

It was a burden for him

pulling it through the crack in the baseboards.

 

I watched him like a missionary

hovering in a self-righteous helicopter

over a tribe of restless African natives

dancing.

 

I’m sure the ant

laid his offering before his queen

like a huge ivory elephant tusk

or an aborigine boomerang

or a sword blade of white steel.

 

Think once

of how much 

you have to give.

 

3.

 

tediously

I scraped the traces of lipstick

that you left on my coffee cup

and the fleshy filters of thirty five menthol cigarette butts

that lay like innocent cadavers in various ashtray coffins

and waste basket mausoleums

and using a few strands of hair

that you left in my comb

I made a tiny paint brush 

and painted your face in red lipstick pigment

on my left thumbnail.

As I buried the image under a thick coat of fingernail polish

that you left behind

I titled it: “Lipstick Insomnia (part one)”

and woke up.

 

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Letter To A Friend Potentially Lost

 

You, my friend, jealous martyred moping lover . . .

I wish I could at least help you to uncover

the onioned layers of this unsubtle childish reality

that you have managed, in your blind hypocrisy,

to hide; and your motivations with this girl

seem like an oyster, a piece of sand, and a pearl.

Enclosed, spat out, abandoned, and reclaimed . . .

as if desires and weaknesses could all be renamed.

It is selfish and cruel “to call an ax, a spade”

when all you want is to have your body laid

between two white sheets - playing hide and seek,

then immediately you fall asleep.

Sullen and slick like some bird of prey

you spit your cherry seeds away.

Turn to me and tell me you enjoy this taste,

that all your empty spaces have been replaced,

and I will tell you that I love her too . . . 

unselfishly, in spite of you.

And if this poem would mark the end of that love

I would not remove my memories like a glove.

I will save my thoughts like precious shriveled seeds

and plant them as the satisfaction of my needs

as if to nourish and observe, to prune and care

for the fragrant remnants of this affair.

 

I suppose, I will look you directly in the eyes.

Your avoidance will betray any personal lies,

and perhaps in a year these scars will heal

as you dive into some new ordeal.

Until then let this stand as my message from within:

to incorporate, change, and grow from what you have been,

that this irrationality and lack of reason might end

leaving you with what you had at first:

                                                      . . . . .  a friend.

 

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The Paradox Of Need

 

The more you need

the less you get.

The syndrome isn’t over yet.

 

The less you get

the more you feed 

on filling superficial need.

 

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South Vietnamese Baby Lift Tragedy

 

passing her silently in the hallway

her neckline dove down and crashed

like a mid-air jet collision

into an uncharted valley

of sweat beads and melting snowdrifts

the co-pilots were fortunate

bailing out in silken parachutes

side by side

down into a pool

where lost in the distraction of my eyes

they drown

 

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Cigarette Conscience

 

When I woke up this morning

I lit a cigarette immediately.

This is my guilty conscience showing through

telling me to punish my body

for the crimes my dreams committed.

 

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Strange Dream 

 

A strange dream 

can be like a huge piece of glass.

 

Today I woke up startled

searching for the broken slivers on the rug.

 

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Woodwind Cantata

 

outside the air is so frozen

that the trees creek

like a thousand old oak doors on rusted iron hinges

 

the wind seems 

to lift the latch.

 

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Observations From The Window Of Flight #128

San Francisco To Chicago

(Flying The Turbulent Skies Of United)

 

From the heavens, it’s obvious

that erosive patterns have formed.

Water runs from the slopes.

The rivers resemble veins of a leaf.

or arterial pathways.

Mountains with snow and buried pine trees

reflect like wrinkled aluminum foil.

Clouds are stuffed into valleys 

like ointment in open wounds.

 

Flying from west to east

nature is defied 

by the acceleration of time.

Departing in the darkness 

of early morning,

the sunrise chases us 

from the rear horizon.

Black, yellow, orange, 

light blue, deep blue...

ahead we chase the day toward dusk,

deep blue to hazy gray, 

then black again.

The sky is confused and so am I.

 

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Sonnet For Emily and Grace

 

Before your birth my life was self-immersed

with wood and words and ink, my art would flow.

These empty tasks were carelessly dispersed

to feed the need for self worth and ego.

 

Your toddler clothes were gradually outgrown –

two girls transformed to women gracefully.

The fruits of all the savored seeds we'd sewn

had blossomed to become our family.

 

One day I might seem gone, but I’m not through.

Remember how we laughed and don’t be sad.

Our dreams will merge – my calling out for you

to carry on and relish what we’ve had.

 

To share a portion of your lives for me

has sealed my soul to yours eternally.

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